DeSantis sees value in reopening schools even for a short time, teacher raises, graduations and more

‘Value’ of reopening schools: Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he’s still undecided if schools will reopen this academic year, but is evaluating the situation every two weeks and said that under the right conditions students could go back even if it’s only for a short time. “We’re going to look at the evidence and make a decision,” DeSantis said during an education roundtable discussion. “If it’s safe we want kids to be in school. … Even if it’s for a couple of weeks, we think there would be value in that.” He said some districts that are relatively unaffected by the outbreak could reopen while others in areas with a heavy concentration of cases, such as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, could remain closed. “It may be that not every county is going to be treated the same in all this,” DeSantis said. “There is nothing wrong with that. If the problem is different in certain parts of the state, we should recognize that.” The governor also said that he hopes to preserve the $500 million set aside in the state budget for teacher raises when the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s finances becomes clearer. News Service of Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. WKMG. WEAR. WPEC. WFLA. WTLV. WFTS. WFSU. Less is more for students trying to cope with a pandemic and attend school online, said the president of the Pinellas County teachers union. Mike Gandolfo encouraged teachers to be creative and to not overload their students with work, and to reach out for help if their administrators push them to. Tampa Bay Times.

Graduations shuffled: Orange County School District officials have postponed all high school graduations. They’re considering several alternatives, including postponing ceremonies to June or even July, holding virtual graduations or staging scaled-down ceremonies in smaller venues. Plans will be announced as soon as possible, said school officials. WKMG. Okaloosa County high school seniors will have graduation ceremonies, even if they’re in June or July, said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. Northwest Florida Daily News. Many high school seniors in Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie counties said they feel cheated out of their end-of-the-year experiences. “It’s kind of like a punch in the face,” said one. TCPalm.

Online struggles: Many Florida parents are struggling and frustrated in trying to help their children with their online education. “Some of us work from home fulltime, and the added pressure to get the (school) work done — it blows my mind,” said Janelle Sharp, a product manager for a major health insurance carrier who lives in Pasco County. She said the move to home-based online education for students makes too many assumptions about parents. Tampa Bay Times. WFSU. Some Orange County teachers are reluctant to take attendance of online students they don’t actually see virtually. “If something happened to the child, or the child got in trouble or something, what is the liability? A lot of them have sent that concern,” said Wendy Doromal, president of the teachers union. WFTV.

How some schools are coping: North central Florida school districts are preparing paper packets for students in exceptional student education classes and are also creating video lessons and putting together virtual therapy sessions. WUFT. The LiFT Academy in Seminole, which specializes in educating students with neurodiversities such as autism, has incorporated its daily online education instruction with physical activities and even is addressing behavior issues from a distance. redefinED. The Dayspring Academy preK-12 charter school in Pasco County has migrated a full school day into its online schooling, with core classes, two hours of elective classes such as art and dance, group projects and even club meetings. redefinED.

More on the coronavirus: Last year, when school boards approved their 2019-2020 school calendars, Good Friday was marked as a day off for many districts in the state. So despite the school time already missed because of the coronavirus pandemic, students won’t be expected to log in today for classes. Gradebook. Florida students describe their online learning experiences. WUWF. WTSP. The Lehrman Community Day School’s 5th-grade Mitzvah Club caters a lunch for the emergency room staff at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. Miami Herald. School ballfields across America are being lighted at night as a “sign of hope.” Associated Press. School districts and other organizations continue to feed low-income students while schools are closed, and some are making adjustments in their distribution sites and dates. Florida Department of AgricultureFlorida Department of Education. WKMG. Orlando Sentinel. Fort Myers News-Press. Bradenton Herald. Panama City News Herald. Daily Commercial. WOFL. WTXL. WJXT.

Court declines appeal: Florida’s Supreme Court has declined to consider an appeal from the Escambia County School Board over the collection of property taxes from leased property on Pensacola Beach. A lower court had ruled that the school board didn’t have the standing to intervene in the dispute between condo owners and the property appraiser over the taxes collected from the owners of condos on the leased land. The district intervened because it had collected $6 million in disputed property taxes, which it has held in a reserve account. Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said he was disappointed in the decision. “I always thought that the district had standing, but with what they said last week, that issue will not be resolved in this case,” Thomas said. Pensacola News Journal.

Superintendent search: A virtual town meeting is scheduled tonight at 6 o’clock for the two finalists for the Marion County school superintendent’s job. Residents can submit questions for Diane Gullett, deputy superintendent of schools in Clark County, Nev.; and Heath Morrison, a division president with McGraw-Hill publishing in Charlotte, N.C., at this website. The meeting will be broadcast over Facebook and the district’s YouTube channel. Ocala Star-Banner.

Personnel moves: Stacey Hendershot has been named the head of school at the Bolles School’s Ponte Vedra Beach campus, replacing the retiring Peggy Campbell-Rush. Hendershot had been the assistant head of the lower school at Carrollwood Day School in Hillsborough County. Ponte Vedra Recorder. Florida Times-Union.

Opinions on schools: Given everything in play, how wise was it for Gov. DeSantis to announce that every student will automatically advance to the next grade when the new school begins? Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

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